Fuelling before, during and after a performance is what will enable you to perform and recover optimally. Your testing/game day nutrition will differ from your usual nutrition plan as your focus shifts to the here and now and what needs to be done to ensure you’re performing to the best of your ability. Whether it’s to hit an all-time PB in your Clean and Jerk or to just get through Jackie, then it’s worth considering a nutrition strategy to implement for the day. As we know CrossFit is a high-intensity exercise and although everyone is different there is some guidance you can follow.
What to focus on:
- CARBS, CARBS, CARBS and protein…
Again, depending on the individual, the range will be 6-10g/kg BW for carbs and 1-2g/kg BW for protein. As mentioned in the previous blog carbs are our main fuel for high intensity, so to ensure we are performing across the day/competition we must stay topped up! Your fitness levels and duration will depend on how much you will need i.e., the fitter and longer the session then aim to opt for the higher end of the recommendations. Here we want fast-digesting carbs to provide the body with energy to fuel the session:
Carbs: bread/bagels, bananas, jellies, sugary cereals that are low in fibre (coco pops), cereal bars, square bars, spreads such as jam/honey, sports drinks
Protein: Lean sources of chicken, fish, beef, fat-free yoghurts, protein powder
Again, referring back to the previous blog we want to maintain hydration status throughout Game Day. So, if competing in a high-intensity event where the fluid loss will be high, we need to incorporate water and salt. This could be through adding salt to meals or adding an electrolyte tablet to your water.
In terms of acute benefits to performance, caffeine can be beneficial to increase focus and reduce the perceived difficulty of the exercise. So, if already part of your nutrition strategy aim to have a caffeine hit 30-60mins before your first test!
- The Forbidden Four:
The following foods tend to slow down digestion, therefore lying in your stomach and decreasing performance! So, it’s best to avoid them the day of (and the day before) an event!
Fiery – spicy foods like chillies
Fat – opt for leaner sources of protein i.e. reduced fat milk, yoghurt etc, and remove oils, butter, nuts, and avocados
Fibre – opt for white sources of carbs instead of brown as well as veggies with skin/seeds and raw vegetables
Fried – again high in fat and will not be utilised rapidly for energy. Deep-fried foods should be avoided!
Post-performance, fats and fibre should be reintroduced to ensure you’re creating diversity in the diet. As fats and fibre are essential for good health.
When to focus on it:
- Day before:
Here is where we do all the hard work! We need to fuel up essentially by maximising carbohydrate stores (glycogen). On this day we aim for complex carbohydrates to maintain slower released energy throughout the day along with moderate protein and fat. But again, the main priority is the carb intake and if usually you acquire large amounts of protein to allow for a greater intake of carbs you can opt to reduce this slightly on this day! And as mentioned above we are keeping fibre intake low.
Example meals could be:
- Chicken stir-fries with noodles/rice
- Spaghetti meatballs
- Overnight oats with jam
- Chips and baked beans
- Homemade pizza with low-fat cheese
- All the while consistently consuming fluids throughout the day!
- The day of:
We are looking here to top up our carb stores once we wake, along with drinking fluids! Timing is important here – eating too far out will result in hunger during the performance, and eating too close may result in GI issues. So, aim to have your last big meal 2-4 hours out. This meal should be high in carbohydrates and low in fat and protein! And in regards to hydration – it is important to ensure you consume some salts as well as your water.
Nerves can play into our ability to eat and our performance, so this is why we don’t try anything new. As we don’t know how our bodies will react. So, if solid foods are an issue opt for smoothies, sports drinks, and juices as they may help to get in greater amounts of carbs. Or if including caffeine then have an oat milk latte that way, you’re getting caffeine and carbs prior to your event! Example meals could include
- Bagel with banana and jam
- Cornflakes with milk and honey
- Smoothie with granola/oats, oat milk, honey, yoghurt banana etc
In a situation where you may have a break between exercises, you still must refuel between sessions! Or you may see a decrease in your performance! Here you won’t consume adequate amounts to refuel while not feeling too full. If the event is 1hr after then aim for 1g/kg BW i.e. 70kg athlete = 70g carbs.
Ideas here could be:
- Square bars
Whereas if it is >1hr then it might be worth considering adding in a small amount of protein along with carbohydrates.
- Pasta and mince
- Rice and chicken
- Coco pops and milk
But if you do not have much time in between liquid energy is your best bet to avoid any discomfort occurring!
- Post competition:
Here we want to replenish our glycogen stores by refuelling with carbohydrates and recovering and repairing our muscles with protein. Post competition, aim for 1g/kg of BW for carbohydrates and 0.3-0.5g/kg of BW for protein within 30-60mins post-event. Again, were having a high pro and carb and low fat and fibre for rapid digestion.
Post-event snacks could include:
- Protein shake and banana
- Protein milk
- Yoghurt and granola
- Jerky and fruit bowl
- Chicken Sandwich
And similarly, for the rest of the day, we are aiming for that consistent intake of high carbs and protein in our main meals, along with fluids. Be sure to reintroduce fats and nutrients from fruit and veg for repair and recovery from the competition. Similarly with fibre – we want to reintroduce it gradually if reduced in the days leading up to ensure no stomach issues occur!
Main points to remember
- Don’t try anything new on competition day
- Trial out your strategy the week or 2 before to see if it works for you
- The above are simply guidelines but find what works best for you
- Plan in advance, especially if you have a break in between
- Everyone is different so what works for one person may not work for another
Now go and smash Game Day!